Leaders: Be successful, have fun along journey

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. David Thompson
  • 56th Medical Support Squadron
In your military career you experience many educational milestones -- basic training, technical school, PME and one other major milestone -- your responsibility as a supervisor.

I classify this as a milestone because becoming a supervisor is an educational event that continues throughout your career. I remember several supervisors distinctly. I began my career in security forces and my first supervisor was Staff Sgt. Lars Larson. I was 18 years old, fresh out of technical school and ready to use the skills the Air Force taught me. Sergeant Larson increased that knowledge as by ensuring I knew how to guard aircraft sitting on the ramp at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Now, I'm fascinated by airplanes, but even an F-4 loses its appeal after staring at it for four hours. Sergeant Larson, being the astute supervisor he was, realized the need for stimulation so he would run flightline exercises for us; he wanted to make sure we were alert. These exercises took added excitement to a mundane shift, honed our skills and made working nine days straight not feel so bad. Sergeant Larson taught me to know my job and to have fun doing it.

About a year later, I cross-trained into healthcare management and began working at the Nellis hospital for Tech. Sgt. Dave Harvick. Sergeant Harvick always had the answer and could back it up with references in the Air Force Regulation that supported his decision. Sergeant Harvick knew his job and how to apply knowledge to the situation before him. He taught me that when I was assigned a responsibility, I needed to know the guidance provided in the instructions. And, that I needed to know how to apply that knowledge in a given situation. As I grew in the Air Force under his supervision, I realized I could have fun at what I did and be successful by knowing my responsibilities and applying book knowledge to real world happenings.

Another leader that influenced my career was Col. Michael Wyrick. Colonel Wyrick, at a staff meeting at Air Mobility Command headquarters, made a comment that stuck with me. He asked what our purpose for being in the Air Force was. He said he strived to make a difference in our Air Force. He didn't want to have to say to his grandchildren, "I moved papers from one side of my desk to the other." He wanted to make a difference through his actions. He went on to become a major general and deputy Air Force surgeon general; his fingerprints are all over the military healthcare system as we know it today. He set goals and made a difference.

Each of you had a goal in mind when you joined the military-- whether it was a sense of patriotism, to travel, achieve job security or obtain an education. Whatever your goal, I encourage you to strive toward it until it's accomplished, then set a new one.

As a leader, remember a few pointers on achieving success: have fun at what you do; know your job and how to apply that knowledge; and set goals in life -- personally and professionally -- and strive to accomplish them. Strive to make a difference; make an impact in your duty section, unit and in this wing. As a leader, your supervisor, coworkers and subordinates look to see the impact you make each day. Go, master your job, reach for your goals and make a difference, and don't forget to have fun along the way.